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A quick chat with John Barrowman

A quick chat with John Barrowman
A quick chat with John Barrowman (Image credit: BBC)

The Torchwood star talks about his new BBC OneSaturday-night entertainment show, Tonight’s The Night, the new Doctor Who and, er, shovelling coal... How would you describe Tonight’s The Night? "If anybody has some kind of dream about performing or wants to make someone else’s dream come true, we try our best to make it happen." What are your favourite moments from the show? "Well, we have a husband and wife who set each other up – he ends up performing with the cast of La Cage Aux Folles and she does a number with me. We also have a mother who was diagnosed with cancer who performs live with Ronan Keating. It’s really everything from belly-dancers to hula-hoops." What else is in the show? "We have a mystery guest celebrity each week who challenges me to do a performance. I’m training to do kung fu, juggling and football tricks and I’ll integrate them all into routines." The new series of Torchwood is coming soon. What would you like to see happen to Captain Jack? "Who could ask for anything more than a character who is immortal, which he already is? But I would like to see Brad Pitt appear as a guest." Have you met the new Time Lord, Matt Smith? "Yes, and he said he hoped we’d work together. When he walked away I said, ‘He’s actually quite handsome, I feel like I’ve cheated on David Tennant.’ I think Matt will bring an entirely new personality and we’re all very excited." You’re also in the 100th episode of My Family in May, aren’t you? "That was a lot of fun because I haven’t been involved in many sitcoms. I’ve known Zoe Wanamaker for ages and we had a real laugh. We were like two naughty kids." Do you get people shouting, ‘Fantastic, fantastic, fantastic’ at you in the street? "It’s a catchphrase that came about by accident on the Maria shows and now people say it in the supermarket all the time. I was just on vacation in Barbados with my partner and all of the kids in the resort called me Captain Jack. It was great." What’s the worst job you’ve ever done? "When I was 17 my dad made all of us do physical labour so we’d understand why it’s so important to get an education. So I shovelled coal into the furnace of an electrical power plant facility for an entire summer. I was at work by 6am so I appreciate hard work. I’ve even been known to stop and thank the guys who sweep the streets, because that work is hard." What do you like to watch on TV? "I’m a bit boring. I like the news or anything to do with property. I love watching myself on telly, too. It’s a load of rubbish when actors claim they don’t like watching themselves. You wanted to do this job, you love doing it, so why are you afraid of watching yourself? Get over yourself!"

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 


An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.